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Hardball With Chris Matthews

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Lance Armstrong 7, France 5, Obama 4, Usada 4, Washington 3, Chris Christie 3, America 3, United 2, Barack Obama 2, Us 2, New Jersey 2, Msnbc 2, Intermezzo 2, Dnc 2, Elizabeth Warren 2, Chris Matthews 2, Rob 2, Lance 2, Romney 2, John Nichols 2,
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  MSNBC    Hardball With Chris Matthews    News/Business.  (2013)  (CC)  

    January 18, 2013
    11:00 - 12:00am PST  

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if you want to sexually assault somebody, basically you are being sent the message that you can do it and get away with it. >> in april 2011, the obama administration released through joe biden actually new federal guidelines on how i believe colleges should be responding to these kinds of allegations. and they included speeding up the investigation, offering the investigations or video to the local police, has that changed? do you know if that has been a significant driver of any difference here? >> you know it doesn't seem like it is. just today we learned that unc has a dean that recently retired, accused the school of basically forcing her to under -- misrepresent the number of sexual assaults on campus and say it was much lower than it was because they didn't want their school to look bad. i think what we're dealing with here, there is so much interest in putting up images, that simple little tweaks are not doing the job of getting things
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better. >> thank you very much for being here tonight and thank you for your work on this. >> thank you.
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cheating, denied he was a doping ringleader, didn't admit to bullying, and seemed emotionally incapable of sympathy for the people whose lives he ruined and money he took when they tried to do nothing more than tell the truth about what he had done. joining me is "the daily beast's" buzz bissinger and sports editor for "the nation" dave zirin. buzz, in august of 2012, just five months ago, you wrote a cover story for "newsweek" entitled "i still believe in lance armstrong," and yet last night his interview with oprah winfrey began with a series of yes and no questions. >> did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance? >> yes.
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>> yes or no, was one of those banned substances epo? >> yes. >> did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance? >> yes. >> did you ever use any other banned substances like testosterone, cortisone, or human growth hormone? >> yes. >> yes or no, in all seven of your tour de france victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope? >> yes. >> buzz, you are a pulitzer prize winner, you're a smart guy, friend of mine. how was he able to roll you so recently as a couple months ago? >> well, you know, i cringe when i see that cover, and i say that honestly. i think he was able to roll me because i did not do my due diligence, and i think he aided and abetted just slightly because i spoke to him before i did the story. this was in august.
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he said he was giving up the fight against usada, but he still seemed defiant. he said the odds were stacked against me. these guys were out to screw me. i was denied due process. there was never a hint, even a subtle off-the-record hint, that something was amiss and there really was a reason behind his wanting to give up the fight. so i bought it. i said i still believe in lance, i still felt he was a hero despite the blood doping. i assumed he did it, but because of the foundation and overcoming cancer and just 2%, 3%, 5%, he really shot my credibility. >> in retrospect, do you think he should have reined you in, that he owed it to you knowing you were going to come forth with that kind of defense to say maybe you shouldn't get out there so far? >> you know, i do. and i do, but at the end of the day, i'm not going to blame him. i'm going to blame myself. but, look, he's lance armstrong. what he wanted was the cover of "newsweek."
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he wanted a prominent -- someone prominent in the world of sports to come to his defense because as we all saw last night, lance is a clinical, classic narcissist who really only cares about himself. so he didn't care about me. he cared about getting what he could out of me, but, you know, journalists go through this all the time, and i bought it, and i'm embarrassed. >> dave, you wrote that what he's trying to do now is the equivalent of riding a bike through the eye of a needle. well, we watched half of it. we'll see the rest of it tonight perhaps. did he succeed? >> no, he didn't succeed at all, and he didn't succeed on either front, and that's the key point here is that he had to do two different things that were very different, very divergent, and he failed at both. this is what he had to do. first, he had to show the united states anti-doping agency that he was contrite, that he was serious about taking their findings as the new law of the land. that their findings about him were correct. he had to show he was serious about that, and if he did that,
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maybe they would lift the lifetime ban they had imposed upon him. the second thing he had to do was build public sympathy. try to remind people why they fell in love with lance armstrong in the first place. on the first front, failed miserably. he actually drew a line through the heart of the usada report. the heart of the report said that lance armstrong was actually a doping ringleader, that he wasn't just another cyclist who used peds, but that he organized his team to actually use dope. >> he wasn't accepting of that last night. >> no. he said absolutely not. and today they are not happy with that interview. on the second front about building public sympathy, i mean, my word, i felt like i was watching the titanic hit an iceberg. i felt like oprah kept trying to help him, like throwing him lifelines, like try to make yourself more sympathetic, please. all he could do is stare back with this reptilian look on his face and really have no sense of regard for anybody but himself. the only thing that came across was i'm really, really sorry i got caught.
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>> let's take a look at something else. armstrong told oprah when he was doping he had a clear conscience. listen to this. >> was it a big deal to you? did it feel wrong? >> at the time? >> uh-huh. >> no. >> it did not even feel wrong? >> no. it's scary. >> did you feel bad about it? >> no. even scarier. >> did you feel in any way that you were cheating? >> no. the scariest. >> buzz, i took that to mean that he thought he was doing this rationalizing to keep pace with everybody else. you know, everybody was doing this, and this is the way -- the only way he could stay competitive. >> well, you know, that's what i thought as well, but i think dave makes a really good point. to me i changed my position not because of pressure from readers, although many said,
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buzz, you have the wool over your eyes. i changed my position when the actual report came out in october and, as dave said, the worst thing about those allegations was that he coerced teammates, that he was a ringleader, that it was the most sophisticated system they had ever seen of evading detection by drugs. that took it to a whole different level. and during the interview he denied basically all of that. and i also think what happened is usada said the first step is you're going to have to confess. he didn't want to do this, and i think they were floating a trial balloon and saying let's see how it plays with the public. can we afford to give him redemption, and it played terribly with the public. >> do you want a piece of that? >> yes. you know what he did that was really repellent that i don't think the media is remarking upon enough, but when he said, no, i did not lead a doping ring, what he was doing was accusing the people who are on his team of lying to usada. he was accusing them of perjury,
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accusing them of lying under oath. if last night was supposed to be lance armstrong comes clean, the lies are done, guess what? he either lied or accused people who were at his mercy when they basically worked for him with his team for the tour de france, he accused them of a federal crime. >> i thought a critical part, and buzz you addressed this, he discussed one of the most watched moments, one of the most pervasive complaints of his teammates and crew, that he was a bully. listen to this. >> i was a bully in the sense that you just -- that i tried to control the narrative, and if i didn't like what somebody said and for whatever reasons in my own head, whether i viewed that as somebody being disloyal or a friend turning on you or whatever, i tried to control that and say that's a lie, they're liars. >> and then there's this. in this clip oprah confronts lance armstrong with his own lying following his final tour de france win. watch. >> this is the clip that i cannot -- i just can't reconcile what you were thinking when you
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did this. play the winning clip. >> the last thing i'll say for the people that don't believe in cycling, the cynics and the skeptics, i'm sorry for you. i'm sorry you can't dream big, and i'm sorry you don't believe in miracles, but this is one hell of a race. this is a great sporting event, and you should stand around and believe. you should believe in these athletes, and you should believe in these people, and i'm a fan of the tour de france for as long as i live, and there are no secrets. this is a hard sporting event, and hard work wins it. so vive la tour forever. >> what were you trying to accomplish there? >> i have made some mistakes in my life, that's for sure. >> heavy swallow, looked palpably uncomfortable. you thought that was the most telling moment of the interview. >> to me it was. first of all, he's not gracious
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at all, and once again it's lance playing the role of the persecuted victim. i did nothing wrong, the people who have spoken out against me are cynics, skeptics. we all like to control the narrative in life. this guy is not controlling the narrative. he has a coterie of lawyers filing a suit against anyone and everything trying to destroy the lies of individuals, get a settlement against "the london times." that's not controlling the narrative. you saw the depositions where he is boldfaced, under oath lying. that takes lying to a totally new dimension. to me it's criminal. >> dave, what's worse, bullying or doping? because the whole bullying subtext i thought was a big part of last night. >> oh, i think by far bullying is worse. >> how so? >> one could make a compelling case that if you want to be a competitive cyclist, that doping was a prerequisite for doing so. one could make a case that international cycling was like the wild west throughout the '90s and early 2000s, and one could even make a case if you
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wanted to survive the tour de france, you better take some of these peds. one could rationalize it if one chose to. but when you bully other people to make these unhealthy choices, when you threaten them financially, and when you do what i think is one of the ugliest parts of the american justice system, when you say i'm rich, you're not, i can sue you and destroy you, there's an ugliness to this that makes a relative of mine who is a cancer survivor say i don't like this guy anymore. >> he better hope he played better than the jury of the three of us. thank you. we appreciate it very much. coming up, lance armstrong isn't the only athlete who has some splainin' to do. more are wondering what manti te'o knew and when he knew it about the tragic death of a girlfriend who never existed from a disease she never had, and the longer he stays silent, the more people suspect he has something to hide. up next, senator ted cruz
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is -- a few steps to the right are the truthers who claim the sandy hook shootings were engineered by the government to gain sympathy for gun laws. in this atmosphere, how much can the obama administration really get done on gun safety? also, as president obama prepares for a second term, which way is the democratic party headed? a pragmatic middle of the road alternative to the gop or will it move sharply to the left? you can't be president of the united states for four more years without a couple episodes like this. >> we cannot sustain -- whoops. was that my -- that's all right. all of you know who i am. >> we'll have more of the lighter moments of the first term in the "sideshow." this is "hardball," the place for politics. ng. ring. progresso. your soups are so awesomely delicious my husband and i can't stop eating 'em! what's...that... on your head? can curlers!
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tomato basil, potato with bacon... we've got a lot of empty cans. [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup. woman: what do you mean, homeowners insurance doesn't cover floods? [ heart rate increases ] man: a few inches of water caused all this? [ heart rate increases ] woman #2: but i don't even live near the water. what you don't know about flood insurance may shock you -- including the fact that a preferred risk policy starts as low as $129 a year. for an agent, call the number that appears on your screen. heading into the weekend of barack obama's second inaugural, we've got some new poll numbers
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from our nbc news/"wall street journal" poll about what americans think of their president. 52% approve of the job that he's doing as president. that's a hair above the 51% that put him back in office in the november election. 61% say he's easy-going and likable. 55% say he can handle a crisis. 51% say he's a good commander in chief. while only 29% say that he works effectively with congress. we'll be right back.
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welcome back to "hardball." one of president obama's first major challenges in his second term will be trying to get significant new gun control legislation through the congress, but can he do it? if the outrageous opposition coming from the right is any indication, the president has a major fight on his hands. the nra has labeled him an elitist hypocrite and called out his daughters who receive secret service protection. yesterday senator ted cruz accused the president of exploiting the murder of
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children to push through gun control legislation, and then there are the real nuts out there. a movement of people who say that the sandy hook tragedy was a hoax. the real purpose was to create a political environment to take away all our guns. the american public is largely on board with at least some of the president's agenda. in a new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, more than half, 56%, say laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter. so what realistically can the president do? david corn is washington bureau chief for "mother jones," joy reid is managing editor of thegrio.com, and both are msnbc political analysts. joy, how large should he be looking? >> i think the president needs to go in with a large package obviously, but when you talk to individual lawmakers, particularly on the house side, you get the sense two things have to happen. first of all, something has to pass the senate. that theoretically could be large, but the house is going to be a much tougher sled, although i was speaking with a couple lawmakers yesterday who seemed to think parts of what the
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president wants could actually pass in the house. things that are pretty much noncontroversial, things like universal background checks that even pro-gun, even pro-nra people support, and there is a possibility you could get high capacity magazines through the house, but whatever happens, it seems like the senate will -- >> i hope we get votes. one of the things i was offended by in the simpson/bowles process was people never knew how their member of the house or senate felt because they didn't have clean up or down votes. i think we're owed that. >> in the not so bad world, you're correct. we should have votes up and down on this. i think right now the people who are the obstructionists, the republicans, the gun lobby, are talking more reasonably than they will a month or two or three down the road when some of these things come up for possible votes. more important than deciding to have a big package, the only way this will succeed is if the president can keep up the intensity level on his side, on
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the side of those people who want to see these things passed. we know that the gun lobby and the gun fanatics will be very intense not just tomorrow but six months from now and a year from now, and to overcome that opposition, which will manifest itself when the moment comes, he's going to have to keep cops engaged, educators, neighbor groups, public educators and public safety advocates, really as engaged in this issue as the nra, and that's a challenge. >> they might continue to shoot themselves in the foot, pun intended. i want to show a little bit of this. the nra released a web video that gets very personal with the president. take a look. >> are the president's kids more important than yours? then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school?
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>> to talk about the president's children or any public officer's children who have not by their own choice but by requirement to have protection and to use that somehow to try to make a political point i think is reprehensible. i think it's awful to bring public figures' children into the political debate. they don't deserve to be there, and i think for any of us who are public figures, you see that kind of ad and you cringe. >> chris christie i think is on the right side of this politically speaking for himself at home in new jersey. why aren't more republicans -- he's the only one i'm aware of who took this position. >> absolutely. chris christie once again -- first of all, he's consistent because he's yelled at people for asking about his own kids being private schooled, if you remember that youtube moment. but he's also one of the only republicans who doesn't seem beholden to the far right. i think that's part because he's doing politics in new jersey, which is essentially a blue state where he wants to get re-elected governor.
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i think he's ensuring he will get re-elected governor, but this is one of the reasons i can't see chris christie being anywhere near being the nominee for the republican party for president. >> i think he's running for president but as the democratic nominee. >> he will never make it through the republican primary. >> viewers of msnbc, if they've watched the shows the past few days, know i have kept asking for any republican in an elected leadership position to say something about the craziness and excessive rhetoric on their side, and colin powell, i'm sorry, he doesn't count as a republican anymore. but chris christie, i will give him credit, he finally stepped up and said at least this nra ad is bad. but what about the guys calling for civil war, impeachment, attacking the president for being a king, imperial, rand paul. it's amazing the free run they're getting from the more responsible people, if they even exist, in the republican party. >> what's amazing to me is the president in his remarks with the vice president embraced the second amendment, made reference to the creator, invoked the name of ronald reagan, and still
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comes out of the thing as a socialist who -- >> a secret muslim socialist who wants to take your guns. >> perhaps the most disturbing trend since the newtown shootings has been the rise of conspiracy theorists who claim the whole thing was a hoax, part of an elaborate plan by the government to provoke enough anger to warrant rounding up your guns. websites, blogs, youtube videos have attacked the veracity of officials and official accounts of tragedy. they allege many of the people were actually actors. that the parents didn't show enough emotion and must be in the conspiracy. some claim if the shooting actually happened, there must have been more than one shooter and the government was involved somehow. one 30-minute truther video on youtube has been viewed over 10 million times, and it's not just the loons on the internet. james tracy is a tenured professor at florida atlantic university. take a look at what he wrote on his blog. while it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the sandy hook shooting ever took place, at least in the way law enforcement
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authorities and the nation's news media have described. david corn, i remember growing up and going to the movies and paying because i wanted to learn whether big foot really existed. >> yes. >> and somehow now in the 21st century, you know, those sort of nutty ideas where nobody got hurt have morphed into this sort of loose change-like garbage if you remember in the aftermath of september 11. >> i hate to say it, but this was predictable. you knew the alex joneses and other people in the world would use this for their own ends to sell books, to sell theories. this is one of the best arguments against tenure i've ever heard. it's too bad we feel compelled to debunk this. it's craziness that goes beyond the gun fanatic craziness. >> there's a part of the human psyche that doesn't want to believe bad things happens and the occam's razor applies to them. when something horrific happens, people look for a bigger conspiracy. when president kennedy was shot, people don't believe the
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narrative they were given was true. today there's a commerce in it, and this same conspiracy that the government is going to grab your guns and use a false flag attack on american citizens to do it has migrated from waco, from the branch davidians situation, to oklahoma city, to fast and furious. it's gone to the aurora shooting. each one of these becomes the newest false flag attack whereby the black helicopters are coming to get your guns. >> it's made easy by just pushing the send key. we have to run. thank you both for being here. thank you, david and joy. up next, the lighter moments of president obama's first term. and you can follow me on twitter if you can spell smerconish. this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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back to "hardball." next time you tune into "hardball," we'll be a few hours
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into president obama's second term. embedded in all the highs and lows of the past four years have been those lighter moments that are equally tough to forget. let's take a quick look back. >> we cannot sustain -- oops. was that my -- that's all right. all of you know who i am. the guy forgot his keys. jimmied his way to get into the house. there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. so far so good, right? i mean, if i was trying to jigger -- well, i guess this is my house now, so it probably wouldn't happen, but let's say my old house in chicago. here i'd get shot. bipartisan outreach will be so successful that even john boehner will consider becoming a democrat. after all, we have a lot in common.
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he is a person of color. although not a color that appears in the natural world. leaders of the republican party, they call the passage of this bill armageddon. end of freedom as we know it. so after i sign the bill, i looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling or sudden cracks opening up in the earth. turned out it was a nice day. they said we needed to triple the border patrol. well, now they're going to say we need to quadruple the border patrol or they'll want a higher fence. maybe they will need a moat. maybe they want alligators in the moat. lots of ups, lots of downs, except for my approval ratings which have just gone down. but that's politics. it doesn't bother me.
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besides, i happen to know that my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth. he seems all-american, but if you heard his real middle name, tim hosni pawlenty, what a shame. governor romney has said that he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced as a bill on day one of his presidency. he even called it marvelous, which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget. it's a word you don't often hear generally. i think governor romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. you mentioned the navy, for example. and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. i particularly want to apologize to chris matthews.
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four years ago i gave him a thrill up his leg. this time around i gave him a stroke. >> there's no reason to think that we shouldn't expect more of those in the next term. this is the official portrait of president obama from four years ago. here is the new one. sure, he doesn't look quite as young, but clearly he opted to go a much more cheerful route this time around. up next, as president obama prepares for a second term, which way is the democratic party headed? to the center or to the left? and this sunday join chris matthews for a special airing of his documentary "barack obama: making history." that's this sunday at 6:00 p.m. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. @ñ
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welcome back to "hardball." while much of the focus and scrutiny has been on the real challenges on the republican party, but there's been less attention paid to questions facing democrats over the next four years. though president obama handily won re-election, the democrats face a challenge of their own. as jonathan martin and maggie haberman pointed out today, quote, he presides over a party
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that has largely papered over its divisions for the past four years thanks to the president's commanding popularity. but almost as soon as the echo of obama's inaugural address fades and he becomes a lame duck, democrats are going to have to face a central and unresolved question about their political identity, will they become a center left democratic leadership council by a different name party or return to a populist left-leaning approach that mirrors their electoral coalition? to tackle that question we're joined by former san francisco mayor willie brown and jeff nichols. how did you read the 2012 outcome? did it validate a liberal agenda or was it more about the individual popularity of one barack obama? >> it was more about the individual popularity of one barack obama plus bill clinton. after all, it was a decisive victory, but it was a victory for the man, not necessarily the party. >> is that how you read it,
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john? do you see this being an obama victory as opposed to a liberal victory or they intertwined? >> i never want to disagree too much with one of the greater politicians in american history, but i would suggest that there was a little more party there. you won a couple u.s. senate seats that they weren't supposed to win sometimes because of republican flubs. 1.4 million more people voted for democrats for the house than voted for republicans, only gerrymandering kept the house where it is. and so i think that this man has done a lot to build a broad progressive coalition, but your core question is the important one. can you hold that coalition together? >> mayor -- >> let me say this to you though, i believe that it would have been a more telling benefit for the party if it had been nancy pelosi re-emerging as the speaker of the house and if democrat governors had won in the numbers that they needed to win in as well as legislative bodies being dominated by democrats.
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i think the cult of the personality had a lot more to do with the end results this time around. in addition thereto, the defective candidacy of the republican nominee. after all, he was a legitimate burden for that party. >> the republicans were the best friend of the democrats because of that whole primary process. those debates i think had a collective effect that was all to the benefit of president obama in the end. >> you had one rational guy, jon huntsman, come out, and they all pounded on him. >> who didn't act as rationally as he is. remember the old ten for one, he was one of the hands that went into the air. >> he tried a little bit until south carolina. it wasn't just the debate. the pathologies of the debate played out through the campaign. so you had senate seats in missouri and indiana that fell to the democrats in part because of republican flubs. we have to go to that core question. what is the democratic party now? is it a party that simply does
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well when the republicans do badly? is it simply an alternative to the republicans? or is there a there there? that's something that barack obama is going to have to do a lot of defining in, and it will start in the inaugural speech. >> mayor, looking beyond the president, identify a face or faces within the party that you think best represent where it needs to go. for example, senator-elect elizabeth warren. is that an individual who you think embodies where the democratic party needs to be moving? >> no, i do not. i think the democratic party is still pretty much the cult of the personalities that are involved. i think elizabeth warren won in the state of massachusetts simply because she was a better personality, a better candidate, and the issues in that state were issues that were totally marketable around her candidacy. on the other hand, in other states they were not equally as marketable. in the state of ohio, for an example, it was clear that the
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incredible number of racial minorities who turned out did so for barack obama. they didn't do so just for the democratic party. so i still think the democratic party at the moment has to rely upon the incredible personality of the individual candidacies before they can even get to the part of where they talk about a party agenda. >> john nichols, an interesting development today. the administration has announced that its transitioning its campaign apparatus into a tax exempt group called organizing for action. that's the new name for what was once called obama for america. the goal, according to politico, is to play an active role in support of the president's agenda. >> the president has the most exciting campaign apparatus ever built. it's time to turn that loose.
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it's time to turn that loose for something more than just an election, right? if the nra has got a list, then obama for america has a bigger list. >> i'm not sure what they think of that at the dnc, that all of a sudden this entity is going to have perpetual life. >> let's be really clear about this. the dnc is always an extension of the president who is in office. what's interesting about this, and i talked to people who are engaged in this today, and it's still very much in definition. but this is where the answer to your question comes. because if ofa becomes a very effective force as regards legislation, then you begin to define the democratic party based on a legislative agenda which, as the mayor points out, extends from this president but, again, there's one challenge in this. that agenda may not unite the whole of the coalition as well as barack obama himself did. >> it will be interesting to watch in the next couple years. thank you mayor brown, thank you john nichols. we appreciate it very much. up next, the curious case of
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star notre dame linebacker manti te'o. more people are wondering what he knew and when he knew it about the death of a woman that he called his girlfriend but who never really existed. this is "hardball," the place for politics. in the middle of the night it can be frustrating. it's hard to turn off and go back to sleep. intermezzo is the first and only prescription sleep aid approved for use as needed in the middle of the night when you can't get back to sleep. it's an effective sleep medicine you don't take before bedtime. take it in bed only when you need it and have at least four hours left for sleep. do not take intermezzo if you have had an allergic reaction to drugs containing zolpidem, such as ambien. allergic reactions such as shortness of breath or swelling of your tongue or throat may occur and may be fatal. intermezzo should not be taken if you have taken another sleep medicine at bedtime or in the middle of the night or drank alcohol that day. do not drive or operate machinery until at least 4 hours after taking intermezzo and you're fully awake.
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driving, eating, or engaging in other activities while not fully awake without remembering the event the next day have been reported. abnormal behaviors may include aggressiveness, agitation, hallucinations, or confusion. alcohol or taking other medicines that make you sleepy may increase these risks. in depressed patients, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide, may occur. intermezzo, like most sleep medicines, has some risk of dependency. common side effects are headache, nausea, and fatigue. so if you suffer from middle-of-the-night insomnia, ask your doctor about intermezzo and return to sleep again. ♪ looks like america is a nation of conspiracy theorists. a new poll by fairleigh dickinson university in new jersey finds that nearly two-thirds of americans believe at least one of four conspiracy theories presented to them.
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among the conspiracy theories, that president obama is hiding information about his background. 36% believe that one. 25%, that's 1 in 4, say the government knew about 9/11 before it happened. 19% say the 2012 presidential election was stolen. how about this? the poll found that the more people knew about current events, the less likely they are to believe conspiracy theories. that makes sense, and that's true in general. but not among republicans. where more knowledge actually leads to greater belief in conspiracy theories. we'll be right back. we're back.
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we're back. you may not have known the name
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manti te'o before this week, but odds are you do tonight. te'o is the notre dame football star who led the irish to the national championship game after losing his girlfriend to cancer. now it turns out the girlfriend didn't die, didn't have cancer, and didn't even exist. the question tonight is whether te'o was the victim of a foul prank or involved in the hoax himself. in september te'o valiantly played a big game against michigan state after he thought his girlfriend died of leukemia. days earlier te'o had told reporters and teammates his girlfriend and grandmother had died within hours of one another. notre dame says te'o is the victim of a cruel hoax who found out via a phone call in september that he had been pranked. he alerted the school 20 days later. he released a statement this week saying this is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time i developed an emotional relationship with a woman i met online. we maintained what i thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and i grew to care deeply about her.
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to realize that i was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating. melinda henneberger is a "washington post" political reporter who is a notre dame alum. rob simmelkjaer is with nbc sports radio. notre dame says te'o got a call from what he thought was his late girlfriend's phone, and he realized he'd been the victim of a prank. two days later he was referring to the girlfriend and their relationship in interviews as if nothing had happened. >> since i really got hit with cancer, i don't like cancer at all. cancer -- i lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer. i have really tried to go to children's hospitals and see, you know, children. >> manti, you mentioned the tragedy, you lose your girlfriend and your grandmother in the same week, right? i want to make sure i got that correct. >> correct. same day. >> so what do you think both of
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those ladies would say to you being a heisman trophy finalist? >> i hope that my grandma and, you know, my girlfriend would say that they're proud. not only that i'm here, but the way that i conducted myself and just always to remain humble, be gracious, and always to acknowledge heavenly father in all things. >> rob, at a minimum, can we conclude that if he wasn't in on it, at least he had knowledge that the whole thing was a fraud and a hoax before he publicly acknowledged as such? >> yes, i think we can. i mean, he's made a statement he found out it was a hoax on one date, and then, as you just played, a couple days later he hadn't acknowledged that yet. michael, that can be consistent theoretically with him just being embarrassed by the situation and not wanting to go public with it, not wanting to acknowledge at that time that he had been fooled, that he had been hoaxed basically. so i wouldn't draw any conclusions, but --
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>> in other words, a potential is that initially he wasn't in on it, but this whole thing just snowballed out of control and at some point he made a decision to play along. >> i think that's right. i think one could imagine a set of circumstances where a young man on the national stage for the first time might just decide it was too embarrassing to admit that he had been fooled in this way.
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and there was apparently a feeling among even some of his teammates that he was getting in over his head. there was concern for him, because he's very well liked on campus, getting in over his head, describing this girl as the love of his life when, on campus, he was seeing other young women. >> he was? he was dating other women? >> yes. and this fall he was dating a young woman, a junior at st. mary's college across the street from notre dame. and so there was a lot of questioning about, you know, how this love of his life fit in with his dating life on campus. >> pete fammel of sports illustrated interviewed manhattani te'o, and he sees how this story became questionable. he writes in retrospect there were some red flags when i checked to find more about kekua, i couldn't find anything. yet that isn't uncommon for a college-aged student. and there wasn't anything on her supposed brother, koa.
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i was unable to track down any obituaries or funeral notices. we couldn't find any information about the car crash. we couldn't find any articles about that accident. i'm sympathetic to pete thamel. in the sports illustrated explanation now we know he had a deadline of two hours after he concluded that interview for what became a cover story. >> well, that -- we should all be humble and not be overly quick to point the finger when we could all find ourselves in a situation like this. on the other hand, i think in general the press has been very willing to accept and even be part of the notre dame myth making. and i think that, you know, this player and the press maybe didn't have, you know, the usual
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holcomb detectors fully engaged when you think, wow, this is a lot like the story of the gipper. how amazing that this woman lay dying and say please one one for me. please don't stop to come to my funeral. >> very easy in retrospect to look back now and know and say, the bells should have been ringing. but it's a very different circumstances when we look back. >> i look at the notre dame officials crying their eyes out for this poor young man and saying this is unimaginable tragedy a month out from -- >> they have some explaining to do as well. >> i think so. >> melinda hennenberger and rob, thank you. what winston churchill could teach president obama. let me finish tonight with this. that honey nut cheerios has oats that can help lower cholesterol? and it tastes good? sure does! wow. it's the honey, it makes it taste so... well, would you look at the time... what's the rush?
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be happy. be healthy.
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let me finish tonight with this. dinner with churchill, policy making at the dinner table. she writes while managing the war, the british prime minister maintained an active palate and a nose for a fine cuban cigar. the real take away from the book was that this so-called man of the 20g9 century was more productive at the dinner table than the conference table. as we look to the start of the president's second term on monday, it's a lesson which needs to be appreciated by modern day washington.
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that we live in polarized times, that's not subject to debate. one of the causes is incivility. elected officials spend very little social time with one another. they don't move their families and settle here anymore. they're too busy running home to raise money. to spur a climate where collegiately rains will rooi require both sides extending themselves. this sort of socializing doesn't appear to come to him naturally, the way it did to say jfk or reagan. he disagrees. when asked about the insolar nature of his white house at this week's press conference, here is what he had to say. >> most people who know me know i'm a pretty friendly guy. and i like a good party. >> now still, when he extends himself, his overtures need to be reciprocated. abc reported that speaker boehner has turned down an invitation to every formal state dinner that president obama has held, that's six in total. and senate minority leader